Mon, Sept. 28

VERDE HERITAGE 1899: JEROME; Smallpox Epidemic

"The clerk of the Board of Supervisors informs us that five men have died of smallpox in this county --- one at Ash Fork, one in Prescott, and three at the pest house [near Prescott]. There was one fresh patient taken to the pest house Tuesday." --- 'Courier.' (Arizona Republican; Phoenix; January 7, 1899; p. 3.)

"SMALLPOX SITUATION: Accounts from all over the territory continue to report the spread of the dread disease. Prescott has quite a number of cases and guards have been stationed on the roads leading south to prevent suspects or tramps from spreading the disease in the Salt River Valley. Phoenix has but two cases so far, and the authorities there are doing their utmost to stop the spread of the disease." ... (Weekly Orb; Bisbee; January 8, 1899; p. 1)

"The smallpox bugaboo that has kept Arizona worked up to a fever pitch for the past two weeks, made its appearance in Jerome simultaneously with its visit to the other towns in the territory, thereby causing some little uneasiness and much apprehension among our citizens. A 'Reporter' scribe chased the flying rumors, endeavoring to locate the disease, from one end of Jerome to the other and from side to side, but to no avail. No smallpox has made its appearance and none is likely to appear. The sulphur in the atmosphere is a warrant against the invasion of the unwelcome guest. We heard, while searching for a case of smallpox above the smelter, that a singer in a saloon down town had the disease, and our informer assured us that he had seen the yellow flag flying [used for quarantine] above the building. What the party saw was a large sign, 'The Red Light,' which shows above the saloon. All the rumors were about as well founded as the above." (Arizona Republican; January 9, 1899; p. 3.)

"There are seven cases of smallpox in the pest house at Prescott, but no new cases are reported." (Coconino Sun; Flagstaff; January 14, 1899; p. 15.)

"Jerome has an isolated case of smallpox. The sulphur fumes that pervade that camp are not conductive to the propagation of smallpox microbes and there is but little danger of the disease spreading." (Arizona Republican; January 22, 1899; p. 3.)

"Joe Tamborino was taken with smallpox on Friday, the 24th, and his residence has been quarantined." (Jerome Mining News; February 6, 1899; p. 3.)

"B. A. McDaniels died in the pest house of Jerome last Sunday. He came to Jerome from Williams." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; Prescott; February 1, 1899, from Thursday's daily; p. 3.)

"Another quarantine on the Luce Colorado. Tom Miller and Frank Ferguson, the efficient police officers of Jerome, are kept busy nowadays acting as health officers in addition to their regular duty." (Jerome Mining News; February 6, 1899; p. 3.)

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors meeting on February 8, 1899: "Petitions for and against incorporation of the 'town of Jerome' were taken up, read, and on motion continued." ... During the meeting on February 10, 1899: "March 8 was set as the day for passing on the petition for and against the incorporation of the town of Jerome." Expenses: Frank Jewett, nurse to H. Johnson while he was sick with small pox, $125.00. (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; February 15, 1899; p. 4.)

"SMALLPOX AT JEROME: The Camp Threatened by the Indifference of Officials."

"Drs. Wood and Carrier have pronounced Charlie Hall's case of fever to be nothing more nor less than a well defined case of smallpox says the 'Reporter.' Hall, who is well-known among the sporting class here, is confined to a room in the house of ill-fame known as The Red Light. The doctors rendered their decision Monday morning and hung out the [yellow] danger signal, ordering the inmates to remain indoors and the house to be quarantined. The news of Hall's condition spread rapidly and it was but a short time until a large number of his friends had gained admission to his room."

"The second case is that of Andy J. Murray, who has been employed at the works [United Verde Copper Company] for some time. He was caught at the railroad station trying to make his way to Prescott, but was refused transportation over the railroad. Murray had a handkerchief tied over the lower part of his face. In this way he succeeded in gaining passage in a hack loaded with passengers to the station and had no trouble in securing a ticket. His condition was only learned after he had entered the coach with other passengers. The railroad officials declined to carry him and he returned to his room. Medical attention was at once rendered him and steps taken to prevent further exposure. Tuesday Murray consented to be moved to the pest house, where he is now receiving the best of medical attention at the hands of trained nurses."

"Later --- At 2 o'clock this (Thursday) morning Hall died, after undergoing horrible agonies."

"During the early stage of his illness he slept with two or three boon companions, who are now mingling among the people of Jerome. The indifference shown by officers is something unheard of. The body of Hall has been viewed by a number of females, who were permitted to disregard the 'pronounced' quarantine supposed to have been thrown around the building."

"If more energetic measures are not taken at once to control the spread of this disease in Jerome the result will be far-reaching and appalling. Local officials are utterly unable to cope with the contagion. County officials are showing little regard for the welfare of Jerome in this matter as they do in everything else. It is the Board of Supervisors duty to act promptly and with sufficient force to meet sanitary regulations. It was deemed best to move Hall to the pest house and prevent the public from being needlessly exposed to the disease, but upon his refusal to go willingly, he was permitted to remain in his room --- a semblance of quarantine being nil was to protect the public. Officials should understand their duties better than to be deterred from doing what must appear to all to be an urgent necessity. That the will of one individual should jeopardize the health of the whole community is without reason or sanction of law."

(Arizona Republican; February 13, 1899; p. 8.)

"Charlie Hall, of Jerome, died there recently of small pox. The deputy sheriff at the above place telephoned the Board of Supervisors yesterday that he had one suspect and 18 persons who had been exposed to the disease in quarantine." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; February 15, 1899; from Saturday's daily; p. 3.)

"Claude Emmerton and Monroe Greenlaw returned [to Flagstaff] Thursday from Jerome. They report but one new case of smallpox at that place." (Coconino Sun; February 18, 1899; p. 11.)


"As was stated in last week's issue, Jerome stands an excellent show for an epidemic of smallpox. This statement in the 'Reporter' caused some dissatisfaction last week, and we were accused of being needlessly alarmed. That the steps taken by county authorities are wholly inadequate, the development of two new cases in unexpected quarters proves conclusively."

"Mrs. H. V. Wager has a well-defined case of smallpox and is under the care of Dr. Woods at the hospital. Her case is rendered even more serious on account of giving birth to a child Friday night. The little one was taken from its mother, it is hoped, before it contracted the disease. Mrs. Wager is the wife of H. V. Wager, who is employed as a nurse at the hospital. Dr. Wood is confident that Mrs. Wager will survive the attack."

"At press hour we learn of the development of varioloid [probably the mild form of smallpox. "Variola" is a Latin term meaning "pox" or "postule."] at the home of Carpenter Milne. One of his children, a boy about ten years old, has a well-defined case of the above disease, pronounced so by Dr. Clark. It is unfortunate that other members of the family have been attending school regularly."

"A. J. Murray, who is confined at the pest house, is very much better, and his recovery is only a question of time. Parties quarantined on account of the Hall and Murray cases have been released after one week's confinement."

"If there remain opponents to incorporation and county division, the criminal negligence on the part of county officials should remove the last vestage. Jerome, it appears, is looked upon as being nothing more than a bird rich in plumage to be plucked at their elegant leisure. The county supervisors are supposed to take charge at such a time as this, but have, so far, shown themselves unwilling to cope with the scourge. If citizens, as a body, do not take prompt and effective means to stamp out the disease we may expect an epidemic of frightful proportions." --- 'Reporter.' (Coconino Sun; February 25, 1899; p. 13.)

"Mrs. H. V. Wager died of smallpox at Jerome last week." ... "The little child of H. V. Wager died at Jerome last night of bowel trouble. It was born two weeks ago today and a few days after its birth its mother was taken down with small pox, dying a week ago." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; February 22, 1899; from Monday's daily; p. 1; and March 1, 1899; from Friday's daily; p. 3.)

"D. D. McDonald, publisher of the 'Jerome Hustler,' is in town [Prescott] for a brief visit. He reports the big copper camp as lively as ever. He says the small pox has entirely subsided." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; March 1, 1899; from Friday's daily; p. 3.)

"A telegram was received in Prescott today announcing two more cases of small pox at Jerome." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; March 1, 1899; from Monday's daily; p. 1.)

Yavapai County Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday, March 8, 1899, Expenses: Quarantine guards at Jerome: C. W. McKenzie, $20.00; G. W. Norton, $20.00; George Dimick, $44.00; Fred Hawkins, $16.00; Allen Mills, $16.00. Digging grave at Jerome on account of smallpox, George McGow, $10.00. "The petition for the incorporation of Jerome was granted." ... During the meeting Friday, March 10, 1899, Expenses: Budworth Bros., transportation, smallpox, Jerome, $11.00; Landon & Berman, burial of dead, Jerome, $40.00. (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; March 15, 1899; p. 1.)

"Small pox comes high priced but occasionally inflicts itself on a community. This county has just been called on to foot bills aggregating over $400 for the care of small pox patients and there were not very many patients either." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; March 15, 1899; from Thursday's daily; p. 1.)

"Another case of small pox has developed at Jerome. The man is a carpenter. His name was not learned." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; March 15, 1899; from Tuesday's daily; p. 3.)

"ALL STATES ARE HAVING A NUMBER OF SMALLPOX CASES. Those who think that Los Angeles is the only part of the United States where there are cases of smallpox should look over the weekly bulletin published by the United States Marine Hospital Corps. This bulletin has been primarily necessitated by the prevalence of smallpox throughout the United States. The bulletin just received here by Health Officer Powers shows that there is some smallpox in every state of the Union with two exceptions. The smallpox is supposed to have been brought in originally by soldiers returning from the Cuba campaign. It first became a serious question in the Southern States during the fall months. It spread and from January 1st to March 1st the bulletin discloses that there were 300 cases in Georgia, 125 cases in Colorado, and more than 300 in Nebraska, 87 in Ohio, over 100 in Virginia and other states. ... At the present time there are 15 cases of smallpox in Washington, D. C., 15 cases in St. Louis, Mo., 12 cases in Columbus, O., 21 cases in Loredo, Texas, 18 cases in Denver, a number in Omaha, and so on throughout many of the cities of the country." (The Argus; Holbrook, March 18, 1899; p. 1.)

"There seems to be no apparent abatement on small pox at Jerome yet." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; April 5, 1899; from Tuesday's daily; p. 4.)

"Two new cases of small pox are reported in Jerome." (Arizona Weekly Journal-Miner; May 3, 1899; from Tuesday's daily; p. 4.)

"Frank Jewett, the smallpox nurse, has returned to Prescott. He has been employed at Jerome and concluded to disappear from that camp simultaneously with the smallpox. His stay at Jerome seems to have agreed with him, his complexion being possibly a shade darker, caused probably by the fumes of sulphuric smelter smoke." (Jerome Mining News; May 15, 1899; p. 3.)

Herbert V. Young, Jerome Historian: "In 1899 Jerome had a severe smallpox epidemic, resulting in a number of deaths. The Copper Company built for the town an isolated pest house, which was burned when the epidemic subsided. The papers made but scant mention of this." (They Came to Jerome; 1972, 1989; page 33.)

Smallpox was an infectious disease caused by one of two virus variants. The risk of death was about 30% and much higher for babies and children.

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